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As you reflect on the year you’ve had personally, professionally, and financially in 2014, are you any closer to reaching your goals? Whether or not you view 2014 as a success, the year-end presents an opportunity to reflect and start anew with a clean slate for the year ahead. If you’re wondering what steps you can take to get ahead in the New Year, here are 5 simple financial to-dos that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Review your net worth and check in on your goals The number one way to start 2015 off on solid footing is to know where you stand financially. Reflect on the past year and assess your current financial situation compared to where you’d hoped you would be at the end of 2014. And what’s the best way to do that? Create a balance sheet, otherwise known as your net worth statement. This statement is a snapshot in time of all your current assets versus your liabilities/debt. If you have a handle on your finances and know Read on! →
2014 is quickly coming to an end but financial moves you make in the next two weeks could make a difference in the financial aid your child may receive in the 2015/2016 academic year. Because college financial assistance is based primarily on the previous year’s income and assets, be certain of the financial impact before selling an investment, receiving gifts, spending on big ticket items or borrowing to make improvements to your home. Financial Aid Forms The amount of need-based financial aid a student may receive stems from information parents provide The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA and the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. The new FAFSA form will be available beginning January 1 at FAFSA.ed.gov and the CSS form is available now at collegeboard.org. The somewhat less familiar CSS form, typically used to seek financial assistance directly from the school, is often used for private universities to gather more information about your family. It uses much of the same information provided to FAFSA but goes further requesting data such as three years of income history. CSS also allows families Read on! →
How do you successfully negotiate the conflicting goals of saving for your children’s college educations, as well as saving for retirement? If you are like most people, these two goals are constantly competing for your savings dollars and it can be difficult to prioritize one over the other, especially since education seems a more pressing goal. If you are feeling stretched and maybe discouraged as you battle these opponents, there are a few key takeaways to consider: Prioritize Appropriately You cannot look at these two goals serially, thinking that if you just focus on the education piece and work your way through this, then you will be able to focus on retirement savings. Because the resources needed for retirement are so substantial, it is typically not an amount that can be accumulated in short order, but rather needs the advantage of years of compounding to accomplish. Current lifespans suggest we need to save for retirement at a level which could sustain us for upwards of 30 years. Therefore, retirement savings needs to be occurring early and often in order to Read on! →
Today marks Giving Tuesday 2014. It is well known that giving comes from the heart and is not typically financially motivated, but it doesn’t hurt to receive a little benefit when your tax liability is reduced. Taxes and charitable giving are unique to the individual. Since these recommendations might not be appropriate for everyone, always check with a professional advisor before making any final decisions. Donating Appreciated Stock Starting with the basics, you can typically donate appreciated stocks and mutual funds directly to a charity equipped to accept them. If you want to make several gifts to multiple recipients consider opening a donor advised fund with either Charles Schwab or Fidelity Investments. The donation to a donor advised fund is tax deductible in the year deposited to the account. If you want to make several donations or you aren’t sure which charity you want to give to, the donor advised fund is ideal. For more information on donor advised funds please visit the Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments websites by clicking the links below. https://www.schwabcharitable.org https://www.fidelitycharitable.org Qualified Charitable Distributions The Read on! →
The holidays provide an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. As you enjoy the company of your loved ones this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the planning that should be done to prepare for the unexpected and protect your family. If something happened to you, would your loved ones be taken care of? Have you had open family discussions about income protection in the event of job loss, disability, or death? Do you plan to leave an inheritance, and who will be in charge of the execution of your estate? What if you have a health issue, do you have proper Health Care Powers of Attorney in place, and is your family aware of what role they have been designated to play? Remember, part of the process of implementing your financial plan involves informing your loved ones of your decisions to ensure proper execution of your wishes and avoid family turmoil in the future. What better time than when surrounded by family and friends to remind us to review our coverages/documents and to have Read on! →